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Forty Years of Public Economics : A Personal Perspective

  • DREZE , Jacques H.

    ()

    (CORE, Université catholique de Louvain, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)

This paper presents a personal perspective on the field of public economics, as I have seen it evolve over the past forty years. Starting in the early fifties, microeconomic theory invaded the age-old field of public finance. A central core of this work consists in deriving general qualitative formulae, within the general equilibrium model extended to encompass a public sector, public goods and taxation. That central development is flanked on one side by implementable solutions to practical problems (I refer in particular to public utility pricing, road pricing and auction design) , on the other side by the development of a rich abstract framework (I refer to equilibrium with increasing returns, state-contingent contracts, priority service contracts, ... ). The two flanks should come together, as they did in the early fifties when the theoretical developments grew out of practical applications. Yet, few economists succeed in creatively linking theory to real problems, and our professional organisation fails to promote adequately such contributions and their authors. Next to this emphasis on the interplay of theory and applications, I discuss briefly the success of public economics, its fragmentation into subfields and its relation to macroeconomics. The writing of this paper was prompted by my participation in editing a volume of selected papers by William Vickrey, on his 80th birthday. Frequent references are made to his work, which is exemplary of the perspective presented here.

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Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) in its series CORE Discussion Papers with number 1994075.

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Date of creation: 01 Dec 1994
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Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:1994075
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  1. Jerry A. Hausman & James M. Poterba, 1986. "Household Behavior and the Tax Reform Act of 1986," Working papers 437, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions and Bidding," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 699-738, June.
  3. Arnott, Richard & de Palma, Andre & Lindsey, Robin, 1991. "A temporal and spatial equilibrium analysis of commuter parking," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 301-335, August.
  4. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
  5. Bohm, Peter, 1984. "Revealing demand for an actual public good," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 135-151, July.
  6. William Vickrey, 1961. "Counterspeculation, Auctions, And Competitive Sealed Tenders," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 16(1), pages 8-37, 03.
  7. Herbert E. Scarf, 1994. "The Allocation of Resources in the Presence of Indivisibilities," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1068, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  8. John McMillan, 1994. "Selling Spectrum Rights," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 145-162, Summer.
  9. Groves, Theodore & Loeb, Martin, 1975. "Incentives and public inputs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 211-226, August.
  10. Peter Mieszkowski & Edwin S. Mills, 1993. "The Causes of Metropolitan Suburbanization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 135-147, Summer.
  11. Boyes, William J & Happel, Stephen K, 1989. "Auctions as an Allocation Mechanism in Academia: The Case of Faculty Offices," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 37-40, Summer.
  12. Edward Clarke, 1971. "Multipart pricing of public goods," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 17-33, September.
  13. Sandmo, Agnar, 1983. "Leif Johansen's contribution to public economics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 317-324, August.
  14. William Vickrey, 1948. "Some Objections to Marginal-Cost Pricing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 218.
  15. Tulkens, Henry, 1978. "Dynamic processes for public goods : An institution-oriented survey," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 163-201, April.
  16. Dreze, Jacques H. & Arrow, Kenneth & Atkinston, Anthony B. & Basu, Kaushik & Honkapohja, Seppo & Krueger, Anne & Morales, Juan-Antonio & Stern, Nicholas, 1994. "Report of the IEA Committee on a new School of Economics and Economic Development (SEED) in the Third World," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 1-18, September.
  17. Feldstein, Martin S, 1974. "Social Security, Induced Retirement, and Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(5), pages 905-26, Sept./Oct.
  18. Samuelson, P. A., 1986. "Theory of optimal taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 137-143, July.
  19. Peter Bohm, 1984. "Revealing demand for an actual public good," Framed Field Experiments 00129, The Field Experiments Website.
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